The Wars To Come
The House of Black and White
Sons of the Harpy
Kill the Boy
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
The Dance of Dragons
After the dramatic events that transpired last season, Game Of Thrones returns for its long anticipated fifth season, and a much more methodical pace accompanying its narrative. Nestled between a lot of the slow paced, politically charged episodes are some of the best set pieces of the show. Hardhorne in particular is really the highlight of this season, resulting in a climactic fight that erupts into chaos and spells serious consequences going forward.
Much like the books, the direction of the season leans heavily toward three main narratives; Arya in Braavos, the Sparrows’ rising power in King’s Landing and Daenarys’ continued struggles to maintain peace across the Narrow Sea. The former story sees Arya accepted into The House of Black and White by Jaqen H’ghar, beginning her training into becoming a face-changing assassin. This ultimately leads her to question everything she’s been taught before, ending with her future at the House still up for debate.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing the continued presence of the Sparrow’s religion causes serious problems for the Lannisters. This culminates in several balances of power swinging in favour of the High Sparrow and the cult, exerting their dominance by imprisoning Margarey Tyrell and later on, Cersei herself. Ultimately, this storyline serves its purpose to show how powerless Tommen is as ruler over the Seven Kingdoms but does admittedly drag on a little more than it should.
Up in the North, Stannis prepares his army following the successful sacking of Mance Rayder’s camp. Seeing an opportunity to exert his dominance over the North, Stannis tries unsuccessfully to recruit Tormund and the Wildlings to his cause until Jon Snow steps in, promising them land South of the wall. This leads him off on an expedition to Hardhorne to recruit the Wildling horde and strengthen Stannis’ forces.
Unfortunately, the Boltons have other ideas and after wedding Sansa, Ramsay heads up North to sabotage Stannis’ army. This leads to him making a rash decision regarding the Lord Of Light which really serves as the catalyst to the end of his cause, as the army abandons him, leaving him at the mercy of the Boltons’ army.
The season ends with one final twist in the tale, several episodes after Jon Snow is declared Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Ambushed in the middle of the night, Jon sees his brothers betray him. After stabbing him repeatedly and leaving him for dead, Season 5 ends with big question marks hanging over the series and the threat of the White Walkers growing becoming an ever bigger threat than ever before.
Although there isn’t much in the way of exciting battles or action set pieces this season, it’s ultimately the interesting view of the various faiths across Westeros that really makes these 10 episodes so interesting. From the rise to power for the High Sparrow through to the wavering faith in the Lord of Light, there’s some very interesting thematic work done here that helps push this season along.
Much like seasons before, the visuals are fantastic, with the set design and visual effects really helping to bring Westeros to life. While the pacing is a little slower this time around and the season is somewhat overshadowed by what’s come before, there’s enough here to make for an enthralling watch nonetheless.